After combining for just 13 points through the first three quarters, Harvard and Cornell exploded for 35 points in the fourth quarter on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately for the Red, the Crimson did more of the scoring and emerged as the victors, 31-17.
Despite being out gained by nearly 300 yards and allowing eight sacks of freshman quarterback Jeff Mathews, Cornell (1-3, 0-2 Ivy) held strong in its long-time rival’s backyard and entered the fourth quarter down just a touchdown. Mathews overcame an early interception and finished 16-33 for 125 yards and two scores on the afternoon. Junior running back Nick-Booker Tandy led the way for the Red on the ground, gaining 53 yards on just four carries highlighted by a 39-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Red did little to stop the Crimson (3-1, 1-1 Ivy) from accumulating yards but did prove to be opportunistic when necessary; Cornell forced three Harvard turnovers throughout the game, twice intercepting quarterback Colton Chapple in the first half and forcing a key fumble by Chapple in the third quarter. Despite the many takeaways, the Crimson offense proved to be too much for Cornell and eventually wore down the Red defense in the fourth quarter.
Harvard got on the board first at the 3:35 mark in the game’s opening quarter when running back Gino Gordon rushed into the endzone for a 19-yard score. Gordon led the Crimson in rushing on the afternoon, accumulating 158 yards on 21 carries.
Neither team scored again until the third quarter, at which point Harvard kicker David Mothander capped off a 71-yard drive with a 25-yard field goal to extend the Crimson lead to 10 points.
After a fumble by Harvard quarterback Colton Chapple set the Red up with great field position at the Crimson 5-yard line, Cornell kicker Brad Greenway made a field goal of his own and sent the Red into the fourth quarter down, 10-3.
From that point forward it was as if a switch was flipped and both teams could finally find the endzone. Harvard did so first, as Chapple hooked up with wide receiver Levi Richards for a 21-yard pass and catch to put the Crimson up, 17-3. After back-to-back sacks of Mathews forced Cornell to punt on the ensuing possession, Harvard got the ball back near midfield and scored in just three plays on a 43-yard run by running back Rich Zajeski.
Cornell would not go down easily, though, as a 39-yard run by Booker-Tandy got the Red within striking distance at the Harvard 21-yard line. Two plays later, Mathews found junior tight end Ryan Houska for a 13-yard score. After the extra point was blocked Cornell was down 24-9.
As was the case all afternoon, however, Harvard quickly answered Cornell’s score with one of its own. This time it took just three plays, as a 65-yard run by Gordon and 12-yard pass interference penalty on the Red allowed Chapple to run for 2-yards into the endzone.
The game’s final seven minutes were relatively uneventful until Mathews found junior wide receiver Shane Savage for a 7-yard touchdown with just four seconds to play. After the Mathews-Savage duo hooked up on a two-point conversion, Harvard killed the clock and survived with a 31-17 victory.
Original Author: Dan Froats